TRIGGER WARNING FOR SURVIVORS
This blog entry contains a warning that usually does not accompany my writings. If you are a rape/CSA/SA survivor and are in a bad place right now, you may wish to stop reading this entry until you are feeling better. If you continue, you do so by your own choice and at your own risk. Thank you.
I've recently been coming to grips with the fact that I was raped by a woman – a pregnant woman. If you are laughing right now or saying to yourself "sure you were" or "I'd love that to happen to me" or "can't rape the willing" then I'm not sure you should continue reading as you are part of the problem. Scratch that – perhaps you should continue reading yeast infection treatment…
If you don't mind, I'll get right to it.
On a Friday night in the autumn of 1990, after a night of drinking, dancing and relaxing with a friend for several hours at a popular club in Jacksonville, North Carolina – said friend disappeared for the night and left his female friend (stranger to me) without a ride and about 35 miles from home. I was not capble of driving due to the strong possibility of my drink having been spiked by my friend's friend who had purchased both of my drinks that night. Fortunately, the club was next to a motel. She asked for a ride and I agreed to drive her home in the morning as she was pregnant. I was going to have to get a motel room for the evening as I was not driving in such a state. We decided to split the cost of the room and both agreed that sleeping was all that was going to take place. She was pregnant and I felt a compulsion to protect her in that state. At the time, I thought I was in love with a woman attending UNC-Wilmington and was not interested in sleeping with this stranger. I seem to recall we had separate beds. Everything went black after that I have a ton of holes in my memories from that weekend.
I woke up about 2 hours later – to find my clothes removed from the waist down, penis erect and the woman on top of me – raping me. She had apparently brought me to erection while I was unconscious – not hard as I was 19 and could easily maintain one with little effort at that age. She told me everything was okay and to go back to sleep and despite my best effort to the contrary, I was unable to speak coherently in my half-conscious state and did fall asleep again quickly. I have no idea how long she continued on top of me as I remained unconsious for the remainder of this first attack. It is very possible that this lasted for several hours as my rapist was (as I would learn later) an experienced domintrax and quite aggressive.
After the alcohol and/or possible sedatives had worn off in the morning, I awoke again to find her on top of me – angry and hostile. I immediately remembered waking up at least once prior during the night to find her on me and felt my body freeze up at the realization I was being raped. This wasn't a dream. This wasn't a fantasy. This wasn't consensual.
She sternly warned me to "be quiet" and "not be forceful" and made it clear that she would accuse me of raping her if I tried to stop it. I was stunned to say the least and not sure how to respond. I could easily have thrown her off me and ended it right then, but I was not willing to risk harming her child or her to protect myself. Further, I took her threat very, very seriously. She said it so easily that I doubt I was her first.
I weighed my options for a moment and came to the conclusion that a sober, pregnant, locally raised, college student of 24 was far more likely to be believed by the authorities than what they would perceive to be a drunk 19-year old Marine in the best shape of his life. I frequented that club a lot and I'm sure several people saw me leave with her. My choices were jail vs. enduring further rape at her hands.
I complied by lying still – as everytime I moved she screeched at me to be still – while she continued to warn, taunt and threaten me for what seemed like an eternity. I still can't comprehend the anger and hostility she conveyed while she raped me. How do I wrap my brain around what this woman did? How do I make it make sense? Why did she do it? Why me? Was she planning it? Was it random chance and opportunistic? These aren't healthy questions as I'll likely never have the answers, but I'm asking them anyway.
I don't really know how long this second rape continued as I eventually succeeded in disconnecting my mind from the situation. Eventually, she orgasmed again and got off me. I have no idea how many times she had actually raped me that night – at least twice. Or was it one long rape that lasted 7 hours or more? Not knowing is equal parts blessing and curse.
As a small favor, she turned out to be disease free.
Prior to accepting the facts and removing the veil of delusion, I'd always tried to pretend it was nothing or played it off like an uncomfortable memory of a strange night that ended weird whenever the memory surfaced. Pushing it to the back of my mind or deluding myself into believing I was somehow to blame for her actions had become an art form after so many years.
I am posting this now, because after nearly two decades of pretending, the floodgates opened last month, triggered by a friend, and it has been extremely difficult to deal with as my denial was swept away. I am in therapy as I have a lot of work ahead in order to heal after the band-aid was so dramatically and unexepectedly ripped away. As you can imagine, this was very difficult to admit, not only publicly to you, but to myself and to my wife as well. However, I cannot and will not hide this any longer. If my own story can help inspire someone else to seek assistance sooner, I am happy to be the catalyst that kicks off the healing process.
THE AFTERMATH AND OBSERVATIONS
Contrary to the ugly falsehoods spread by some men and women who deny that women can be predatory, rape is about power and control – not gender. She had power over me that night, even though I could have easily physically stopped her. Her pregnancy, the alcohol I had consumed, my refusal to harm a woman, and the threat of a false allegation against me were the only weapons she needed to have her way that night – and she used them with the manipulative skill of someone experienced in such tactics.
I am left with the knowledge that she took something from me that night. I can't get back those hours with her, erase the memories or pretend it didn't happen anymore. There is no such thing as retroactive consent and she certainly wasn't interested in finding a willing participant for a consensual experience. She wanted domination, fear and submissiveness from someone unable to resist. I have to accept that. In the meantime, I can alter my own response to the memories, flashbacks, sadness, anger, rage, and anxiety that years of denial have thrown at me all at once – and I will.
She won't win. I will heal. However, I will not be the same man at the other end of this process. That is not to say that I am now tragically flawed, a freak, or damaged goods. No, I am just going to be different in ways detectable and undetectable. I believe that human beings are all products of our environments, upbringings and experiences. This is just one more experience, albeit a powerful one, that constitutes the being known as James.
With the assistance of my wife, therapist and several friends who have been indispensible during this time, I am buoyed when I can't keep my head above water on my own.
I am not going to go quietly. I'm not going to cower in the corner. I'm going to be vocal. I'm not going to be anonymous or sheepish in my language. I'm going to attach my name to everything I say with regard to the healing process and not allow anyone to force me into silence. I'm going to be sad. I'm going to be angry. I'm going to be confused. I'm going to feel ashamed. I'm going to blame myself. I'm going to cry. Then I'm going to let it flow out of me as I heal.
I didn't fight her then, but I am going to fight her now. She won't win. She can't win.
I'm not a victim, I'm a survivor (in training). So fuck her. I get to win now.
Links to this post:
I can be reached at the "Contact Us" link at the top or by emailing me at james AT jameslandrith DOT com.